Breathing Safely — Teck’s Revolutionary Approach to Mining Safety with Wearable Tech

Worker in high-visibility vest and hard hat using walkie-talkie near large truck.

At Teck, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our people. Recognizing the need for innovation in dust particulate monitoring to help safeguard our workforce, Teck is pioneering a shift from traditional methods of monitoring to the use of wearable technology with real-time data, creating a new standard in the industry.

Mining involves breaking up rock, releasing respirable crystalline silica, which is present in most rocks on Earth. Without proper protection, workers risk inhaling this hazardous dust, which can lead to long-term health issues. Traditional monitoring methods involved complex and slow processes, leaving room for improvement. Teck historically measured respirable crystalline silica through air pumps and analytical filters worn by workers throughout their shifts. However, results took 2-3 weeks, providing only average daily exposure data without pinpointing high-risk areas or activities.

Corrine Balcaen, Teck's Director for Occupational Health and Hygiene, identified an opportunity for improvement in dust particulate monitoring by utilizing real-time analysis of silica exposure data.
In collaboration with a third-party, Teck initiated a pilot project using a wearable monitoring device the size of a smartphone. This device, which attaches to workers’ coveralls, provides real-time data that allows occupational hygienists to identify and mitigate risks promptly, a significant change from the delayed results of traditional methods. The real-time data allowed for significant discoveries about exposure areas, prompting Teck to consider further innovative solutions.

This collaboration is set to grow with an extended pilot to further validate this technology and explore additional integration into Teck's operations. 

Data from Teck’s trials became instrumental in the ongoing collaborative effort with other mining companies aimed at standardizing real-time particulate monitoring in the mining industry, showcasing the potential for a new industry-wide standard.

Teck's journey from traditional dust monitoring to pioneering wearable technology exemplifies the transformative impact of innovation on occupational and industrial hygiene in the mining industry. Teck has not only improved its internal processes but has also become a driving force in promoting industry-wide adoption of real-time particulate monitoring.

Read more about our approach to health and safety on our website. 



First published on March 01, 2024